Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E20 – The Siege of the North, Part II

In the twentieth episode of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang tries to find a way out of the spirit world as Admiral Zhao schemes to definitively tip the war towards the Fire Nation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

In short:


Holy god, holy god I was so ridiculously unprepared for the season one finale.

First off, I want to say that the huge leaps in drama in plotting that this story took in its final twenty-four minutes of season one have left me wrought with excitement and anticipation. If Avatar can do such disturbing and monumental things in its first season, then that means it can only get realer from here on out. Of course, a lot of this I’ll deal with later, but “The Siege of the North, Part II” went places I could have never expected, and it made the story all the better.

Now, I realize this all aired as one episode, but it actually works remarkably well as two separate pieces, especially since there’s a huge tonal shift in the story for this second part. While the pieces were all set up in the first half, our hearts filled with dread, “Part II” is about how the people who have gathered at the North Pole all come to realize exactly what sort of force the Avatar is.

And we’ll get there (I promise!), but I wanted to jump right into the absolute mind-fuck that was the scenes inside the spirit world. I know that there are two seasons left and surely the show will take us there again, but I could spend years exploring the spirit world. I’ve said time and time again that I’m a huge fan of world-building in fiction (LOVE YOU FRINGE), and the few moments we’ve gotten in the spirit world are so lush with detail and intrigue that I’m never content at all to leave that place. What makes it so fascinating to me is how often the writers drop all of these ridiculous details and make no attempts to even remotely try and give us any context for what they are. Who the hell was that first spirit that kind of looked like half-human, half-monkey? It doesn’t even matter, really, because it’s all about creating this place in our heads so that we begin to understand just how weird it all is.

Aang’s goal when he went to the spirit world was to locate the Moon and Ocean spirits, and this is precisely why what would soon would happen was so completely unbelievable and shocking. But, before we get there, more weirdness! Like that speck of light that, again, is completely unexplained. Aang follows it because the weird spirit dude tells him to. That’s it. It’s only after Aang “catches” it that the branch he is standing on disappears (WHY) and he lands in the water below. And that is when Avatar Roku appears to Aang! And this is wonderful! And this will certainly help Aang! Roku says that all Aang has to do is visit a spirit named Koh, who will tell him where the two spirits are!

I mean, there is just one small catch: Long ago, those two spirits entered the mortal world, and there’s only one spirit left in this world that is old enough to remember what bodies those spirits chose, which is why Aang must visit Koh. Makes sense, right?

Oh, right, there’s just one other detail that is quite important:



  1. That EVER get approved to show to vulnerable children
  2. That EVER appear in someone’s brain and they thought it would be an awesome thought to share with the world

I don’t necessarily scare easy, I’ll admit. Things might make be jump, or they might creep me out, but I’ve seen so many horror films over the years that I’m a bit desensitized to things that actually frighten me. And I’m making that distinction here because being disturbed and being creeped out are both not the same as each other and nowhere near the sensation of actual fear. I’m willing to concede that everyone else may have read the scene in Koh’s cave as kind of funny or weird, as I’m new to this fandom, so I don’t know what the general consensus is on a lot of this stuff.

Despite that, I will show no hesitation to share the fact that not only is the scene between Koh and Aang one of the coolest things I’ve seen in Avatar, but it quite literally made me curl up in terror on my couch as I watched it. I can’t quite place what it is about Koh that horrifies me so uniquely. Actually, hell, that sounds fun to think about way too much anyway. THIS IS WHAT I DO! But I think it’s a combination of movement and the constantly shifting facial identity that does me in far too much. I’m not afraid of snakes or anything, but it’s the smooth way that Koh moves up on Aang that first set off all of my alarms. If anything though, the fact that Koh changes faces to reveal all of the creatures whose face he stole is what just unnerves me until the end of time. It’s a constant reminder to anyone that THIS COULD BE YOU AS WELL.

Aang, you have far more willpower than I would in such a situation.

But “The Siege of the North, Part II” is not just about this fantastic journey of Aang, and the writers do a great job at balancing this, Zuko’s story, and what’s happening at the Northern Water Tribe. Not one of these plot strings is ignored and I was impressed how rich and dense this all felt, despite that they only had twenty-five minutes to pull it all off. As Aang is learning the identity of the Moon and Ocean spirits, we’re completely shocked by Admiral Zhao admitting to Iroh that he already knows who they are. (Hence his comment in “Part I” that he had a solution to the moon problem.) I love the tension that this creates for us, especially as we think we know what’s going to happen. We know that the yin and yang fish in the pond in the oasis inside the Northern Water Tribe’s city are the mortal bodies of the Moon and Ocean spirits, and surely this means that somehow, Aang is going to make it back to that pond and save the fish from destruction, right?

Meanwhile, Zuko’s fantastic introspection inside the cave during that ill-timed blizzard is a great bit of character development for him. The writers draw a parallel here, spoken through Zuko, as Zuko vocalizes that the Avatar has given him so much trouble in such a short time. It’s unspoken, but I couldn’t help but think of how Zuko knew that Aang was his sign of hope, his chance to possibly mend things with his father and his community. What Zuko does state, though, is that Aang reminds him of his much more successful sister.

Wait. What???? Zuko has a fucking sister????? WHAT THE HELL.

Oh, Avatar, how I love you.

For the last 1,200 words or so, I’ve been spending time discussing these set-up plots because I’ve been struggling to think of the word I think that best describes exactly what the last ten minutes or so represent to me. With such a diverse and large cast, I did not expect the scene inside that oasis: every single major character is in one place at once.
That word is convergence. This finale could have ended the show. That’s how huge it felt. (Ok, I would have been pissed had it ended it here, but you get what I mean.) I think part of it is that I am irrationally of the thought that Zuko and Iroh could one day join up with Team Avatar, which makes NO SENSE at this point at all, and I just want them to get along, okay, because I like them all and I don’t want them to fight and I want Aang to bake little cookies that look like Appa is that so much to ask

But as a way to show us just how intensely serious this is, Aang does not arrive at the pond with the Moon and Ocean spirits. In fact, Admiral Zhoa snatches the white koi from the water and the sky turns blood red, whereupon I realized I’d reached that point of no return. Even when Aang shows up, I now realized just how badly Admiral Zhoa wanted to crush the Northern Water Tribe: He was willing to sacrifice the moon, which his people needed to both continue to fight this war and to survive. Yes, it’s an irrational act that is incredibly short-sighted and awful, but I also can’t ignore that it is a demonstration of desperation.

Aang pleads with Zhao, trying to get him to see how this will adversely affect everyone and then UNCLE IROH TO THE RESCUE. Oh my god, to see him act with such fury and anger is so wonderful, especially because he is well aware of the dire consequences of fooling around with the spirit world. His warning of unleashing a force “ten-fold” of what Zhao uses seems to work, as Zhao places the koi back in the pond, but then HE BURNS THE FISH TO DEATH ANYWAY.

Complete and utter fucking shock. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? oh my god, the moon disappears and then the entire episode turns completely gray and if it weren’t so disturbing, this would be downright beautiful. BUT HE KILLS THE MOON SPIRIT AND THERE IS A LUNAR ECLIPSE BECAUSE THE MOON DOES NOT HOLD THE SAME POWER OVER THE WORLD ANYMORE. As the water benders lose their power, Uncle Iroh steps into action, enraged by Zhao’s foolish decision, and we all become ENTIRELY TERRIFIED by Iroh as a vicious badass. He takes town all of Zhao’s guards in like THIRTY SECONDS. We’re so used to seeing Iroh in such a calm state that his lashing out is mesmerizing.

As Zhao escapes and Zuko disappears (clearly to chase after the man who tried to assassinate him), Iroh pulls the Moon spirit’s body out of the oasis pond and Yue remarks that all hope has been lost. And holy god, Aang immediately replies, “NO, IT IS NOT!” and enters the Avatar state and then WALKS INTO THE GODDAMN OASIS AND MERGES WITH THE OCEAN SPIRIT. My jaw sat on the floor as Aang became the spiritual representation of the Ocean spirit and is a gigantic koi fish and it is both one of the most frightening and awe-inspiring things just simply EVER. My god, I could not believe what I was watching.

Everything seems to happen so fast at this point in the story, but that’s not because of poor pacing or anything. There’s just so much that happens in such a small scope of time that it was hard to catch it all. As Aang wrecks the Fire Nation army as a giant koi spirit, Princess Yue reveals her true history: she is intrinsically tied to the Moon spirit, since she nearly died as a baby and her parents prayed to the Moon spirit to save her. Save her it did, hence the white hair, and now Yue feels obligated to return the favor. Which is now why I feel it is tragically ironic that I stated in the last review that I felt that Yue meant more to this story than she seemed, because not only was I right, but Sokka would have to experience the heartbreak of a lifetime in the process. I mean..god, watching her kiss Sokka goodbye and then the life drop out of her is SO DEPRESSING. Hello children’s show, SHIT JUST GOT REAL.

As the moon returns to the sky and the Ocean spirit places Aang, who has decimated the Fire Nation ships, back on the city wall, we see the battle between Zuko and Zhao reach it’s climactic peak as Zuko quickly gains the upper hand. But neither could have predicted that the Moon would return to the sky, and I gaped as the Ocean spirit grabbed Zhao and pulled him underwater. The scene is even given another context because both Zuko and Aang were willing to save those who were their enemies, but in this case, Zhao refused that help. I mean….HE’S DEAD, RIGHT? Oh my god, this show is so intense.

I was not at all prepared for this. I’m still reeling from a mixture of sensations, from the joy of Aang’s victorious change into the Avatar state, to completely and utterly depressed at the loss of Princess Yue. While there is a bit of a celebratory vibe at the end of the episode, since we learn that Master Pakku is going to head to the Southern Water Tribe and Aang has infused the whole nation with that hope he spoke of episodes ago, I also cannot ignore the looming sadness of it all. I wonder how this is going to affect Sokka, who may have experience his first love and his first loss of that love in just a matter of days. I worry about what the future of the battle against the Avatar will bring, as the very last scene of the episode shows us Zuko’s unnamed sister, who looks rather ~sinister~ and ~badass~.

Yet, while I also know that I am unprepared for the twists and turns to come, I am ecstatic about just how much I’ve grown to love this series. This is some fantastic, smart, and emotional storytelling, and I cannot wait to watch more.

(Tomorrow, I will continue on with season two, but I will post predictions for season two at the beginning of the review because now I have some sense of the show’s themes and focus and characters. Party!)


  • I could not help but laugh at the fact that Hahn failed immediately at his mission to infiltrate and assassinate Admiral Zhao.
  • Admiral Zhao used to work in the Earth Kingdom??? WHAT?
  • Hei Bai!!!!!!!!!!
  • OK, I COULD NOT BE THE ONLY ONE TO NOTICE THAT THE END OF SEASON ONE IS JUST LIKE THE END OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Right??? Look how they’re placed! Fuck, I wish I could screenshot both scenes.
  • “A man needs his rest.” Can I start shipping Zuko/Iroh for purely non-sexual reasons? My god, that man is so affectionate and caring. Why is he not my uncle. 🙁 🙁 🙁
  • The spirits gave me a vision when Yue was born. I saw a beautiful, brave young woman become the moon spirit. I knew this day would come.” “You must be proud.” “So proud. And sad.” MY CREYS.
  • my god so unprepared for season two.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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379 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E20 – The Siege of the North, Part II

  1. arctic_hare says:

    This is all I have to say to you, Zuko:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Though I have plenty to say about him. I found what he said about the difference between him and his sister – the base similiarity between his sister and Aang – very very interesting. First of all, we find out that a fucked up sibling rivalry is added to the mix of the complicated Fire Nation royal family dynamic. Zuko has a sister who is naturally gifted, incredibly so, at firebending, and his father favors her over him. We already knew Ozai was an abusive asshole who challenged his young son to a duel for speaking out of turn, and then burned his face off and banished him when he refused to fight, sending him on a snipe hunt he probably knew full well would never bear fruit as a condition for his return. He's held his love and respect for his own child over Zuko's head like the food over Atlas' head, something he didn't think he would ever reach; because after all, Aang has been missing for a century, and none of his forefathers ever found a trace of him. And who could have predicted that Katara and Sokka would find him in that iceberg? Pure chance. All this is bad enough, but to find out that there is another (haaaaarrrr, see what I did there?) child in the family, who no doubt gets doted on and adored and favored, somehow makes it even worse, in my eyes. Probably because Zuko can directly see how it would be to have his father's affection, to be the golden child who can do no wrong. He has seen his father give his love and respect freely to his sibling while withholding it from him, and while he appreciates what his struggles have done for him as a person, deep down inside it must sting even a little, to have that sharp and horrible contrast in front of his face.

    In fact, I think it says a lot about him as a person that he can take that negative aspect of his life and turn it into something positive, to be prized. It would be all too easy to rage at the world for being unfair, to blame everyone else for his life being harder, and let it destroy him. Instead, he's used it as a fire to forge himself with, into something better and stronger. Favoritism always sucks, but Ozai's form of it seems particularly awful because of where it led to: the disastrous Agni Kai, and the banishment with what would have been an unachievable condition for return if not for Katara and Sokka. But for better or worse, he, like Sokka himself says, never gives up. He's a good kid, I think, just on the wrong path – a good demonstration of why I think this is when the angry ocean spirit has Zhao in his grasp and Zuko attempts to save him, despite the fact that they were fighting with intent to kill just seconds before. He hates Zhao, and has damn good reason to given that Zhao tried to have him killed, and knows as well as we do just how much of a rat bastard the guy is. Yet, he's willing to save his life anyway. That, to me, speaks volumes about how the Zuko that spoke up in defense of the soldier's lives back in that war room still exists within him, no matter how the intervening years and the punishment he received for that action seemed to stamp it out of him. He's not a mindless, cold-blooded killer without a conscience; he can show mercy, and does place value on others' lives, even on the life of someone who outright admitted to attempting to murder him. Not everyone in that situation would be able to extend a hand the way Zuko did, and I respect him for it.

    "I don't need luck, though. I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight, and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am."

    This sets him up as, I think, an interesting parallel to Katara, continuing the theme of that great line from the end of Part I, where he said that she rises with the moon and he rises with the sun. Neither of them have the pure, raw talent that Aang and Zuko's sister have, and both have had to struggle and work hard for their skills. And it's paid off, hasn't it? Zuko is a talented firebender in his own right, he's very good with blades as we saw in The Blue Spirit. Katara, meanwhile, has progressed steadily over the course of this season, culminating in her becoming a master of waterbending. They both strike me as perfectionists with a huge wellspring of determination within them, to persevere and become great through that hard work. That drive to become stronger has helped to define and build them both.


    • hpfish13 says:

      That image reminds me of the movie Meet the Robinson's. "I have a big head, and little arms, I don't think this plan was very well thought through." I'd post a picture, but I'm not image savvy.

    • notemily says:

      This is why I am sometimes a Zuko/Katara shipper. I love this comment.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Yeah, they're actually pretty similar in character – in terms of hard work, struggle to improve, talent and perseverance.


    1. "My father says she was born lucky. He says I was lucky to be born." EPIC BURN.
    2. "I don't need luck, though; I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am." Oh wait, now I want to cry.
    3. "Admiral Choi! Prepare to meet your fate!"
    4. So I kind of love that Zhao decides to kill the Ocean and the Moon. I mean, there's ambition, and there's AMBITION.
    7. If you want an example of the brilliance of this show's dual protagonist-antagonist narrative, look no further than the fact that Sokka is counting on the fact that Zuko never gives up to assure Aang's safety.
    8. Seriously, Aang is a total badass for managing to stay emotionless in the face of Koh.
    9. HEI-BAI!!
    10. The battle scenes are AWESOME. But there is not a single fight/battle scene in the entire series that is NOT awesome, so…there's that.
    11. "They will call me Zhao the Conqueror! Zhao the Moon Slayer! ZHAO THE INVINCIBLE!" You've got to grant him this: Zhao the Moon Slayer is a pretty badass name. (Momo doesn't think so, though.)
    12. You thought "Jet" was red? Check this out.
    13. "Whatever you do to that spirit I'll unleash on you ten-fold! LET IT GO, NOW!"
    15. "No, it's not over." ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS IN THE SERIES.
    18. Master Katara!
    19. "A man needs his rest."
    20. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    <img src=""&gt;


    • PaulineParadise says:



    • Saphling says:

      Ozai and Zuko's sister need to die in a fire simply for the irony. >_>

    • tigerpetals says:

      Okay that last part I never noticed. Or forgot.

    • Emily says:

      I have to admit, I do admire Zhao's total commitment to assholery. When he refuses to take Zuko's hand, I sort of respect him for the first time. Is that weird?

    • notemily says:


  3. echinodermata says:

    "I’m willing to concede that everyone else may have read the scene in Koh’s cave as kind of funny or weird, as I’m new to this fandom, so I don’t know what the general consensus is on a lot of this stuff."
    No, I think the consensus is holymotheroffuck.

    So, the spirit world is gorgeous in a dark way. I do love those twisty trees with the exposed roots. And then Roku! Introducing a spirit called the "face stealer." Well that's creepifying.

    Oh, Zuko. Angst on. His sister is an adored fire-bending prodigy. His father says shitty things to him. Because Zuko's life sucks. I won't even call it manpain – his father's bad enough for me to not make (too much) fun of his angst right now. Although delivering sad monologues directed towards an unconscious little boy is still a bit lulsy. (I'm sorry, it's just so hard not to make fun of Zuko.)

    <img src=""&gt;
    Also, I already said before that I don't care for Hahn, so his run off the ship made me laugh. Love Zhao's and Iroh's deadpan response. Although Iroh visited the spirit world before? Wha? I've said it lots of times, but basically there can never be enough Iroh backstory.

    Yeah, so Koh is one of the scariest things I've ever seen on tv, and let's just remember: kids. show. Plus, I hate centipedes – they creep me out. And then couple it with the changing faces, and just, ugh.
    <img src=""&gt;(Source)
    Aang's lack of expression was pretty impressive though, although it looked pretty weird considering how expressive he normally is.

    I said before that I was pleased that the yin yang fish from the earlier episode weren't just meant to represent Aang versus the Fire Nation or something. I think it's really cool that in addition to whatever they may symbolize, they actually get to be their own characters and incredibly important to the plot.

    I love Momo stopping Zhao's megalomaniacal speech. Oh, this show. Love forever. To quote Bones, "nobody wants to hear that rambling psycho speech."

    Iroh being reserved about when he uses his bending has always been interesting to me, so I love that when the spirits are in danger, he outright threatens Zhao. And then unleashes all hell upon Zhao and his soldiers. That's my Iroh. Such a BAMF. This is not the character you would expect from the first few episodes, so I love how much characterization he's slowly accumulated. Remember when he was just comic relief and a mentor stereotype? Good times.

    <img src=""&gt;
    The color in this episode was so interesting. I remember being a bit bemused at first when it goes to red once Zhao separates the two spirits, but then when one's hurt and it goes to greyscale? Perfect. And then Aang's tattoo and eyes glow white, and then blue blossoms out when Aang enters the water.
    <img src=""&gt;
    So stunning. THIS SHOW! I honestly don't ever think there's been a time I was ever this impressed with television visuals. And it continues too: Zuko's and Zhao's fires burning red and orange against the grey is fantastic. And then the color in Yue's eyes are an actual plot point. THIS FUCKING SHOW I CAN'T EVEN.

    Oh god IROH IS A TRAITOR AND ZUKO IS A FAILURE, AND THEN ZUKO'S SISTER! CAN'T WAIT! So excited for the next season!

    • arctic_hare says:

      I love and agree with this whole review, but I especially can't stop watching the gif of Hahn being tossed overboard. <3 What a hilarious moment, I love how Zhao was all "eh, whatever" and continued talking to Iroh afterwards without missing a beat. Good riddance, Hahn!

      Also, centipedes are one of the WORST THINGS EVER. *shudder* Right there with you.

      • echinodermata says:

        A high school biology teacher of mine was a huge animal lover, and kept a number of animals in the classroom. She had a centipede. I sat well away from it because fuck that noise and let the guinea pigs keep me company.

        • notemily says:

          A PET CENTIPEDE? Centipedes are what my pet EATS (when she can find them). No thank you. *shudder*

          • echinodermata says:

            A different biology teacher at the school kept cockroaches in a little terrarium thing. I DON'T UNDERSTAND.

            • My third-grade reading teacher kept a tarantula in a terrarium at the back of the room. If you finished your classwork early, you could go sit there and let it crawl around on you. Funny how not many kids took advantage of that…. (I totally did.)

    • alexamarie0813 says:

      the use of color in this episode is so fantastic.
      the red moon is beautiful, even though at first i thought it was a little over-dramatic. that was before i realized that zhao was actually going to kill the moon spirit….

    • sam says:

      re: color

      this is someone's picspam of this episode with primary colors as the whole theme! it really showcases how visually fantastic this show is. no spoilers in the post but idk about comments. it's really cool though!

  4. Koh is the scariest fucking thing ever.

    • @redbeardjim says:

      On the DVD commentary, Mike and Bryan have an exchange that goes something like "Sorry for any nightmares we might have caused!" "Fear is a *healthy* emotion, kids!"

    • FlameRaven says:

      I'm not sure if the Silence or Koh is scarier, but both are definitely up there on the list of Most Terrifying Things.

      • NeonProdigy says:

        Well, if Mark's earlier theory that the Avatar is a Timelord, there's no reason why the Four Nations haven't been infiltrated by the Silence and oh god why am I thinking this it's too terrifying and SOKKA WHY ARE YOU COVERED IN MARKS?!

    • The Welsh Pirate says:

      Anybody else wonder if it's somehow significant that one of Koh's faces looks a lot like Zuko's "Blue Spirit" mask?

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Oh yeah, actually, in the Season 3 finale Zuko travels to the Spirit World as the Blue Spirit (geddit?) with Aang and Koh steals his Blue Spirit face. And since time flows differently in the Spirit World, it has already happened from Koh's perspective in this episode. *nods*

        • TheWelshPirate says:

          Uh, I've actually seen the whole series. I was just pointing out that little tidbit.

  5. barnswallowkate says:

    Ok when Aang came out as that fishy froggy thing walking around in the ocean I ACTUALLY GOT GOOSEBUMPS why is this so good?!? I'm incoherent.

    The face stealer WHY and why did there have to be a faceless monkey? Monkeys are scary enough without taking their faces away!

    What will happen to Zuko and Iroh??

    Yue :'( and therefore Sokka :'(

    Does Pakku think their grandmother will like him now that he stopped being a jerk for a week or two to teach Katara? Good luck with that.

    Good riddance to bad Zhao rubbish.

    This was not nearly as awesome in the movie, but I can save my complaining for the liveblog. Now we're done with the stuff from the movie so the rest of the show is all a surprise for me, yay!

    • monkeybutter says:

      Koizilla gave me goosebumbs, too, because it reminded me of Princess Mononoke, and I thought something terrible was about to happen.

      • kaleidoscoptics says:

        Oh yeah, the Ghibli is strong with this episode in a wonderfully awe-inspiring way.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      I'd go as far as to say this scene in the movie was missing the entire point (I get the point they were trying to replace it with, but again, MISSING THE ENTIRE POINT). But yes. My bitching on the liveblog shall be ~glorious~.

    • hallowsnothorcruxes says:

      I love reading the reactions of people who are watching this for the first time.

  6. Maddi says:

    Did they really not mention that Zuko has a sister before this? Man, I need to rewatch season one.

  7. monkeybutter says:

    can’t quite place what it is about Koh that horrifies me so uniquely. Actually, hell, that sounds fun to think about way too much anyway. THIS IS WHAT I DO! But I think it’s a combination of movement and the constantly shifting facial identity that does me in far too much.


    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

    I love the scene with Koh, it is creepy as fuck. The entire time in the spirit world is amazing. It's gorgeous and complex, and I just want to spend eternity there hanging out with Hei Bai.

    This episode is so freakin' good, and I love what you say about "reeling from a mixture of sensations." It's like Arnook being so proud, and so sad because Yue became the moon. This finale was extremely emotional, Zhao's unmitigated evil came back to bite him in the ass, and the Gaang and the Northern Water Tribe managed to stave of the invasion, Katara is a master, and they're ready to move on with the story. And still, Yue is gone, Iroh and Zuko are adrift, and holy crap, Zuko has a sister who is going to be on the hunt. Ozai is still looming in the background. So intense!

    I can't wait to read your predictions for Book 2! Those are always golden.

    • MEE says:

      I remember watching this in like 6th grade and just sitting their with my eyes as wide as dinner plates. Koh was wayyy too creepy. The whole time I was wondering how Aang managed to keep a straight face and I was soo tense just waiting for him to crack.
      I just remember being on the edge of my seat the WHOLE time.

    • Macy says:

      This is why I love this show so much. How they created such a fantastically horrifying creature as Koh is beyond me. ESPECIALLY for a children's show!
      IDK. Maybe it's because I'm such a sucker for mythology/cryptozoology/the paranormal.

  8. Kaci says:

    Oh, Mark. This may sound mean, but I love it when you're unprepared. It's what makes all of this so fun. I love the way you described your first impression of Zuko's sister, too. That was my first impression, too.

    • NeonProdigy says:

      Mark's unpreparedness for how real shit gets is the best part of the Mark Does Stuff experience.

      We can all just kinda laugh at his reactions, while ignoring the fact that a few years ago we were in the same exact place…

  9. elusivebreath says:

    Man, this episode was GREAT! I'm watching along with you, Mark, and I have to say that even though I had been wanting to watch this show for awhile, I'm really surprised at how much I love it. I can't believe it is a children's show, but at the same time, it's great that it is because children don't need to be condescended to or sheltered from everything, so I really like that Avatar doesn't do that. At all. I cried over Princess Yue and I'm a grown woman!

    I don't know about you, but I am EXCITE for season 2!!

  10. Tauriel_ says:


    Yue: "Maybe they'll give you the wisdom to win this battle."
    Aang: "Or maybe they'll unleash a crazy amazing spirit attack on the Fire Nation!"

    <img src=""&gt;

    Yep, I see what you did there, Aang… XD

    And look, more Miyazaki influences! <3

    <img src=""&gt;

  11. RocketDarkness says:

    The scene when Aang enters the pond is so goddamn powerful. Turn the volume up and let the absolutely phenomenal soundtrack wash over you. This scene gets me teary-eyed every time. The Track Team can't be praised enough

    Did you notice that Hahn was still wearing the shoulder spikes? I like to think they spotted him right away, and let him go about his business just so Zhao could indulge in the pleasure of tossing him overboard.

    Hei Bai is awesome. He will brook no asshattery towards his bud the Avatar.

    "Admiral Zhao used to work in the Earth Kingdom??? WHAT?"

    He used to serve in one of the many Fire Nation armies that was presumably invading the Earth Kingdom at the time.

    Mark, this was the worst season in every regard. YOU CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE THE OCEAN–wait, I mean, YOU CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE HOW GOOD THE BOOKS OF EARTH AND FIRE ARE.

  12. Alex D M says:

    omg that scene creeped me the fuck out the first time I rewatched and noticed what you're pointing to.

  13. Dragonsong12 says:

    So unprepared! In a good way! PARTY!

    A note on Iroh's fight at the oasis – Did you notice how the fire illuminated and colored the black and white scene? My artist's mind was reeling at how beautiful that was!

    God, so much love for this episode!


    Holy god, holy god I was so ridiculously unprepared for the season one finale.
    Were you unprepared for how unprepared you were?

    If Avatar can do such disturbing and monumental things in its first season, then that means it can only get realer from here on out.
    If you are on a boat, this is as real as it gets.

    You are not on a boat, however; you're on the F.N.S. Avatar, and it's going to get realer.

    Capslock is an emotion, Mark. Koh just stole your face.

    I don’t know what the general consensus is on a lot of this stuff.
    I am pretty sure the general consensus is CREEPEST THING OF ALL TIME.

    the entire episode turns completely gray and if it weren’t so disturbing, this would be downright beautiful.
    But disturbing/beautiful is the best kind of beautiful! Well, maybe not. But it's the best kind of disturbing! Probably.

    the very last scene of the episode shows us Zuko’s unnamed sister, who looks rather ~sinister~ and ~badass~.
    It is all a facade. Truly, she plays with her My Little Rabbit-Ponies and puts flowers in Zuko's hair.

    • My Little Rabbit-Ponies


      puts flowers in Zuko's hair

      …Also want.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        I'm totally doing both as a fanart! XD

        You won't mind me borrowing your idea, spectralbovine, will you? 😀

      • Hyatt says:

        There's a post in campfuckudie like that!

        Okay, so it's Aang that she's with, not Zuko, and they're frolicking through the flowers (though she's trampling them), but it's still amazing to behold.

    • sundaycoma says:

      That just makes me think about the scene in X2 where Xavier tells Wolverine to put his cigar out or he will make him spend the rest of his days under the impression that he's a twelve-year-old girl.

      Wolvie: …You'd really do that?
      Xavier: I'd have Jean braid flowers into your hair.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I've always loved that, because on one hand its hilarious and on the other its creepy as fuck. You have to admit, in a universe where people can rewrite your entire personality at will, its easy to sympathies with those who are afraid of mutants.

        I love 'em anyway.

        *hugs Rogue and dies*

    • NeonProdigy says:

      Oh yeah, Zuko's sister is totally going to have a sleep-over with Katara and they'll paint each other's nails.

      This is totally a thing that will happen.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      "Capslock is an emotion"

      that's deep bro.

  15. Tauriel_ says:

    Oh, and now you know why Iroh was able to see Spirit!Aang fly past on Roku's dragon – because he had once journeyed to the Spirit World! 🙂

    (Also, that raises the awesomeness of Uncle Iroh by another level.)

    • notemily says:

      Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me, but then how can Katara and Sokka see him when he's flying back to his body when Zuko has him in the cave? They never went to the spirit world.

      I shouldn't read the Avatar Wiki, it just makes me grumpy about discontinuity. 🙂

  16. Shay_Guy says:

    – Yay for Momo interrupting Zhao's list of ego-boosting titles for himself! I LOVE YOU, MOMO.&lt;3

    There's this one webcomic called Captain SNES, set in a multiverse made out of video game worlds, which is known to have some intelligence of its own. And if you're in Videoland, as it's called, it is a very, VERY bad idea to say the words "I," "am," and "invincible" consecutively UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Even if you're quoting or correcting someone else. Within seconds, you WILL get burned for it.

    It makes a great running gag. 😀

    • RocketDarkness says:

      ::is covered in liquid nitrogen::

    • Tauriel_ says:

      It is also point number 24 on the Evil Overlord List:

      "I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)"

  17. monkeybutter says:

    I love the Zuko and Katara parallels. At the beginning of the season, it was the hope they found in the return of the Avatar, and now that they're on par as benders, it's their determination to capture and protect the Avatar, to fight for and against the Fire Nation, though for Zuko that line is a lot more blurred now.

    Yay for Momo interrupting Zhao's list of ego-boosting titles for himself! I LOVE YOU, MOMO

    <img src=""&gt;

    I love that they left Momo behind just so he could smoosh Zhao's face.

  18. FlameRaven says:

    Yes! Also, take a good look at the firebender in the opening sequence.

  19. @maybegenius says:


    <img src=""&gt;

    … and now I have to go back and read everything.

  20. audzilla says:

    I know it's been said in other posts, but the visual design of this episode.. wow. I mean, it's fabulous for ALL the reasons that have been mentioned so far. But Koh, with his blinking, changing face, and the lunar eclipse with the whole world cast into grayscale until firebending lights it up, and the glowing tide spirit and the tidal waves – it all just gives me goosebumps. This is some POWERFUL animation that meshes so well with powerful storytelling.

    I adore it.

  21. @sthomson06 says:

    (1) Mark is NOT PREPARED for Season II. I'm totally looking forward to laughing at all his predictions.

    (2) So… the adult subtext in these episodes is that Master Pakku is Katara and Sokka's grandfather, right? Or am I just wishing more family for Katara and Sokka, considering all that they've lost or left behind?

    • lastyearswishes says:

      (2) So… the adult subtext in these episodes is that Master Pakku is Katara and Sokka's grandfather, right? Or am I just wishing more family for Katara and Sokka, considering all that they've lost or left behind?
      If he were to marry their grandmother (aka his long lost love~) during his staying in the South Pole than yes, he'd be their grandfather. At this point in time, however, he is not.

    • corporatecake says:

      2) I think that some people are bound to interpret it that way, but that's never the reading that I got off of it. The impression I got was that Gran Gran ran off and married someone else from the Southern Water Tribe because she didn't love Pakku, as described in The Waterbending Master.

    • The Welsh Pirate says:

      I've heard that theory before, too. But for some reason I don't really buy in to it. It just makes more sense to me that Kana married a nice guy in the SWT after she got there.

      Though it would increase her BAD-ASS levels if she made the trip to the South Pole while pregnant.

    • Lariren says:

      I literally was going through fanart the other day that contains SPOILERS FOR MARK but came across one that pretty much insinuated that Pakku was really Katara and Sokka's biological grandfather and Kanna was just that badass.

  22. Tauriel_ says:

    FANTASTIC review, arctic_hare! <3 And YES to all of it!

  23. Dragonsong12 says:

    Also, I think Koi-zilla needs an entire movie to themself. I could watch them wreak havoc all day.

  24. kartikeya200 says:

    My favorite part of my favorite two episodes of the first season–an excellent birthday present! I'll start the party with arguably my favorite image from the entire art book (and the scan does it no justice, seriously).

    <img src=""&gt;

    So, THIS EPISODE. I love all the spirit stuff here. And Koh is easily probably the creepiest thing I've ever seen in animation aimed at children, ever, the end. Most shows would have him as the main antagonist, but this one is just like 'oh and by the way there's a spirit that eats your face off and then wears it around for kicks'.

    "You've come to me…with a new face." Creepiest line ever, y/y/y/y?

    Hei Bai cameo, yay!

    <img src=""&gt;

    Aang's visit to the Spirit World provided a chance for visual variety and a warm-toned break from all the blue snow and ice in the Northern Water Tribe.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      The Spirit of the Ocean, whom we affectionately referred to as "Koizilla." Like when Aang was trapped in the iceberg, we imagined that he wasn't submerged in water, but floated in a ball of energy at the heart of the koi monster.

      <img src=""&gt;

      This storyboard by Dave Filoni unfortunately marked the end of his directorial run on Avatar. After completing the finale, Dave left to become the supervising director of The Clone Wars. We were sorry to see him go, but because he's probably the world's biggest Star Wars fan, we knew we couldn't keep him from his true destiny.

      • monkeybutter says:

        That picture of glowy Aang is amazing.

        After completing the finale, Dave left to become the supervising director of The Clone Wars. We were sorry to see him go, but because he's probably the world's biggest Star Wars fan, we knew we couldn't keep him from his true destiny.

        So the similarity between the end scene and

        <img src=""&gt;

        was probably an intentional reference? That's awesome! I love your posts.

      • PaulineParadise says:


    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      That's it for episode specific art, but I have some more stuff to ramble about and random gorgeous art pieces, so DEAL WITH IT. First of all, I can't express my love properly for the giant rampaging ocean spirit. It's so very very Miyazaki, has haunting, pretty music, and it proceeds to lay the royal spiritual smackdown on the entire invading Fire Nation force. I'm pretty sure that had the moon not reappeared when it did, 'Koizilla' would have proceeded to destroy every single one of those Fire Navy ships.

      This was pretty much the one scene I wanted to see done in live action. …Yeeah.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      So let's talk about BAMFs in this episode. First up: Iroh. "Whatever you do to that spirit, I will unleash on you tenfold, PUT IT DOWN NOW." Possibly the best line I've ever heard from Mako. You tell them, sir.

      And speaking of BAMF and, for that matter, CREEPY, when Aang goes straight to the Avatar state with "No, it's not over," and all of these other voices are talking in tandem with his. I love the Avatar state voice. It's the Shit Is About to Get So Real voice.

      <img src=""&gt;

      "Trust me, Zuko, it's not going to be much of a match."

      Block, attack, done. BAMF = Katara. That's what Zuko gets for attacking her from behind.

    • "You've come to me…with a new face." Creepiest line ever, y/y/y/y?

      YYYY (please don't steal my face for that, Koh)

      UPS says my copy of the art book will be arriving tomorrow. 😀 Thanks for these scans! They got me off my butt to buy it!

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      "It gave me life. Maybe I can give it back."

      I'm putting Yui on the BAMF list, haters to the left. The moon is gone, the moon spirit is dead, the ocean spirit + Avatar are rampaging through the city, Waterbending seems to have STOPPED WORKING ALTOGETHER, the promise of untold amounts of chaos being unleashed on the world is about to be fulfilled (seriously, the MOON is gone. THE MOON.) What's a princess dedicated to serving her people over her own happiness to do? Save the entire fucking world, but most definitely the entire Water Tribe, that's what.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      "It gave me life. Maybe I can give it back."

      I'm putting Yui on the BAMF list, haters to the left. The moon is gone, the moon spirit is dead, the ocean spirit + Avatar are rampaging through the city, Waterbending seems to have STOPPED WORKING ALTOGETHER, the promise of untold amounts of chaos being unleashed on the world is about to be fulfilled (seriously, the MOON is gone. THE MOON.) What's a princess dedicated to serving her people over her own happiness to do? Save the entire fucking world, but most definitely the entire Water Tribe, that's what.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      "I don't need luck. I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and it's made me strong."

      Zuko, damn. Gets free, finds his way through a city being torn apart, fights Zhao while the Ocean Spirit is murderfacing all the Firebenders, WINS, still tries to save him from said Ocean Spirit despite Zhao being a royal dickface the entire season…I think Iroh's summation that Zuko has more honor than Zhao was just proven. The end.


      • arctic_hare says:

        These are all so beautiful, THANK YOU AGAIN SO MUCH for taking the time to scan and post these for us every day!

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Thank you so much for all this art! Seriously, its one of the things I look forward to in each post. Its all so beautiful.

    • agrinningfool says:

      Yeah it's settled. This is going on my birthday list.

    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      That first picture is absolutely gorgeous. All of them are, but that one is somehow really striking. Thank you again for doing all this!

    • Ridia says:

      I love that picture of Aang underwater. I have the artbook too, and the very first thing I said when I opened it up to that page was "MUST SCAN." The whole thing is gorgeous, but that picture is hands down the most beautiful thing in the book.

  25. sundaycoma says:


    When are you going to watch the travesty that is the movie, Mark?

    I want to see you HATE-RAGE.

    • @UnaMorgan says:

      Suggestion: Wait until about halfway through season 2, otherwise you'll spoil yourself on a surprise "Easter egg" from season 1 that is TOTALLY RUINED in the movie!

      • The Welsh Pirate says:

        Would you mind going to the Spoilers section of the forum and listing these? The only spoiler I recall in the movie is an off-hand reference to a Season 3 character.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          It also reveals fate of another character (which is a pretty big point in one Season 3 episode) and there's a picture from Series 3.

  26. herpestidae says:

    Oh my God, Koh. The scariest thing that I have ever seen for various reasons.

    1: Centipede body. Giant centipede body. I hate bugs, especially the big ones. That's just terrifying.
    2: Human faces. On aforementioned centipede body. Not cool.
    3: The fang things around his head. WHY ARE THOSE?
    4: He steals faces. And enjoys it.
    5: That blinky thing he does when he changes faces. Just… I can't even.
    Would you rather face Koh or a Weeping Angel? One kills you (kinda) if you don't look at it. The other kills you (kinda) if you don't look at it right.

    And now, some GIFs that are less frightening than Koh:

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

  27. daigo says:

    Fun fact: "Yue" means "Moon" in Chinese. "Tui" and "La," the names of the spirits, mean "Push" and "Pull" respectively. Yue also seems to be based on the story of Chang'e, the Chinese goddess of the Moon.'e

  28. Michelle says:


  29. PaulineParadise says:


  30. PaulineParadise says:


  31. Dragonsong12 says:

    I love reading your posts and this one was just lovely! I agree with all your points and don't have much to add. I just wanted you know know how awesome you are.

  32. NopeJustMe says:

    The thing I loved about this episode was when everything went grey. It was so well done. When others used fire, it was colour, and briefly lit up others before going back to grey.

    Also: Yue's eyes, even in the grey, remained bright blue.

  33. lastyearswishes says:

    omg Koh. His scene creeps me out every time I watch it REGARDLESS of how many times I've seen it.

    Admiral Zhao used to work in the Earth Kingdom??? WHAT?
    I think he says he was stationed there at some point, dunno if that's what you meant by "used to work." XP

    Also, I love you, Zuko.

    Seriously, dude, you are not even remotely prepared for what lies ahead. :')

    Oh yeah, you were planning on watching The Last Failbender, right? I think I remember reading that somewhere… Anyway, are you going to watch it after you finish the series or at some point in between? The movie only covers Book 1 of the series (albeit badly) so you don't have to worry about spoilers or anything (just the horror you'll experience upon watching this travesty of a movie).

    EDIT: NEVER MIND THAT LAST PART. Apparently there ARE spoilers and I didn't notice them. Must've been because I was RAEGing so much~

  34. Tauriel_ says:

    Actually, I love how he matter-of-factly threw Hahn overboard and then continued as if nothing had happened. XD Yeah, Zhao is a douchebag, but at least he is a BADASS douchebag. B-)

  35. enigmaticagentscully says:

    I have two major thoughts from this episode…

    1) I'm starting to be a lot more sympathetic towards Zuko because fuck more successful sisters Zuko I feel your pain. I'm really gonna hate his sister aren't I?

    2) IROH YOU ARE A BADASS FOREVER. Holy SHIT he was awesome in this episode! He's wise and gives great advice but he's also a legitimate BAMF. omg, he's like a tea loving Dumbledore.


    • @Siesiegirl says:

      This might be heresy but I kinda think that Iroh could kick Dumbledore's ass.

      Not that he would; they'd sit around drinking tea and eating sweets and speaking in parables and commiserate on how difficult it is to guide a young man without _actually_ telling him what to do.

  36. lastyearswishes says:

    There are? I don't remember any…then again I probably missed them because I was too busying raging over everything else lol. xP

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Two of them are just mentioned in passing (although they're pretty major in the TV show) and one is briefly shown.

      • lastyearswishes says:

        Huh, guess I'll have to pay better attention the next time I watch it!

        • MichelleZB says:

          Why on earth would you put yourself through watching again?

          • lastyearswishes says:

            lmao I don't really, but when Mark watches it, I might watch it with him as a refresher or something.

          • @UnaMorgan says:

            I think the only decent part was the section with the Blue Spirit. It was closest to the feel of the original. (The mask wasn't as good, though.) And the music was epic!

            The rest of the movie overall SUCKED!!

          • I never saw it, so I'll need Rifftrax and alcohol to get through it, I'm guessing from these comments.

            • The Welsh Pirate says:

              That sounds like an appropriate plan. Rifftrax is like a soothing balm for a nasty burn on good taste.

            • Elexus Calcearius says:

              I had another Avatar friend there to mock it at the time and even then we could not sooth the pain. So yeah. Rifftrax and alcohol. And your favourite episode on standby for when yo finish to rinse the bad taste out.

  37. iva222 says:

    I never expected this show to be so amazing.
    I'm not ashamed to say I cried at the end of this episode.

    I'm hooked, and it's starting to be really hard to watch along with you ^^'

  38. kaleidoscoptics says:

    "I was impressed how rich and dense this all felt, despite that they only had twenty-five minutes to pull it all off."

    This is something that boggles my mind every episode. Each episode feels so much more intensive and detailed than a thirty minute show would seem to allow. It's incredible.

    There is SO MUCH to talk about in this episode, and I missed Friday so I might ramble about that a bit too. First off, the thing that hit me about this episode was the use of color. It's so simple and yet so powerful. When the moon goes dark, only Princess Yue's eyes are bright blue. The Fire Benders' fire lights them up as if it was daytime. It's a really nice touch.

    Han's plot felt like the weakest part of the episode, honestly. It's clear they had to find some way to make Yue inaccessible for Sokka. It seems kind of lazy to make her fiance a two-dimensional asshole like this, especially since so much of the rest of the show is so well thought out. It just reminds me of Stargate SG-1 episodes where they would come into conflict with another group of humans–but there's no real need to worry about character development or shades of gray, because it turns out those one-off characters are total assholes! Bleh.

    Otherwise, the episode is so wonderfully done I can forgive that one awkward plot thread. The spirit world is wonderfully imagined, and I love that they just introduce things and don't really explain them. Also, Heibai is back! Ko was a really interesting character, and I really hope we get to see more of it. The voice was perfect. And apparently Iroh has experience with the spirit world? Iroh backstory nowww please. D:

    Yue's sacrifice was heartbreaking. Hers and Sokka's story was handled really well, and I was actually tearing up near the end. Did not expect that from a Nickelodeon cartoon. ;_; Yue's connection with the moon was obvious (月 yue = moon), but I thought it was just an homage or something.

    God, there is so much to talk about, and I don't even know if I can do justice to most of it. I liked the touch of Zhao giving up. It's clear that failure is not received well by the Fire Nation. He probably had a better fate, in his mind, by dying in battle than by being saved and forced to answer for his failure. The Koizilla was fucking badass. And also Zuko has a sister who will probably be our big villain next season. I cannot wait to see where this goes.

    <img src=>

    • herpestidae says:

      "Each episode feels so much more intensive and detailed than a thirty minute show would seem to allow. "

      This show takes up more time than it is allotted. Mike and Bryan are the Time Lords, and the show is their TARDIS.

      • kaleidoscoptics says:

        Hah, yes! xD I was trying to figure out how to make a "bigger on the inside" joke, but couldn't work it out.

    • Bonzu says:

      The "content" of the episode is actually 22 minutes and 10 seconds, and from this another 2 minutes have to be taken away for the final farewell and the cliffhanger. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??

  39. Viya says:

    Oh Mark, when you talked about how creepy you found Hei Bai in the first Spirit World journey I just kept thinking, "What is he going to do when he gets to Koh??? He's going to flip out!" That's because we ~ALL~ find him creepy and disturbing for the same reasons you do. It makes that scene all the more powerful and creepy because it's in such a epically jam-packed, beautiful and dramatic episode. There is enough trouble going on in the outside world, yet they add this intensity to the Spirit World to remind you that there are things outside the war and Aang has more responsibilities than just mitigating fights between the nations. If they can do all of this in one 25 minute episode, then you are DEFINITELY unprepared for the next 2 seasons…

  40. affableevil says:

    Okay so this episode.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Such a flurry of emotions contained in such a short amount of time. I don't even have words. Only gifs.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    This beautiful show lafjadkjfdkjfdlfjakfjdk! Looking forward to your predictions.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  41. arctic_hare says:

    This counts as spoilery. I'm deleting it.

  42. Megan says:

    Koh terrified me. I was about thirteen/fourteen when I first saw this finale, so I was roughly in the age group this show was targeted for, and it scared the shit out of me, but I never once thought of quitting because the writers making the danger legitimate and not skirting around anything made the show that much greater, in my opinion. (And I'm SO GRATEFUL I stuck with it, because season two is so badass.)

    “You must be proud.”
    I couldn't stop sobbing at this line. Poor, poor Sokka. And he accepts it all so gracefully.

    Knowing what the future seasons hold for you and reading your reviews now… I'm so excited for you to be watching such a great series, and I'm really happy you're enjoying it as much as you are. 😀

  43. RocketDarkness says:

    And FUCK, man, EVERY SINGLE TIME I WATCH THIS EPISODE, when Yue says, "It's over," and Aang says, "No. It's not over" and then steps into the oasis. I CRY LIKE A BABY. And Yue dying. SHIT IS SO REAL.

    I do this exact same thing. The powerful music combined with the haunting visuals is just too much. Turn the volume up real loud to appreciate the deep bass and let it hide the sound of your sobbing.

  44. Tauriel_ says:

    Re: Yue's death.

    Well, look at it from the bright side: Sokka can now brag that his girlfriend is the Moon Spirit. 😀

    • The first I watched Avatar, my little cousin was trying to explain to me that Sokka's girlfriend was the moon, and I had no idea what he was talking about.

  45. fantasylover120 says:

    Ah, Season 2. I've been waiting for you to get to this. It's even better then Season 1 if you can believe it.

  46. mou issai says:

    What creeps me out about Koh are the legs and faces. Someone hold me.

    <img src=""/&gt;

    But Koizilla, Tui, La, Aang, Yue, Iroh, basically everyone is acting

    <img src=""/&gt;

  47. @MeagenImage says:

    DO NOT SAY THINGS LIKE THESE they are also spoilers.

    Leave him the fun of discovering that on the rewatch, damnit.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      It's not spoilers, as it pertains to episodes already aired.

      • Saphling says:

        Mark's Spoiler Policy:

        5) Telling me the “answer” is in a past book.

        EX: “Mark, GO LOOK WHAT SO-AND-SO SAID ON PAGE 87 IN BOOK 4!!!!!!”

        Effect: Half the experience of reading/watching anything that is this dense is seeing what I pick up on and which details I pass over. You are essentially taking away a moment of epiphany/surprise.

        I hope your underpants turn into bedbugs.

        • MichelleZB says:

          True, but this has to do with stuff he hasn't already found out about. Like, if we hadn't met Zuko's sister, and we were all, hey, check out that scene with that random girl!!! I wonder who she is… That would be a spoiler.

          But is it still a spoiler now that we've actually seen Zuko's sister and the cat's truly out of the bag? There are no more moments of epiphany/surprise, because… well, we know she exists.

    • The Welsh Pirate says:

      Did I miss something? Since when has Mark had a re-watch spoiler policy? If he doesn't catch them all on the re-watch, is there also a re-re-watch spoiler policy? Or even re-re-re-watch policy?

      • breesquared says:

        If he doesn't catch it but it is pointed out as an important thing later in the series, it's a Spoiler. He likes to be surprised; if a point important to the future was dropped and he misses it, don't tell him.
        I didn't see the original comment but that is a rule, if the original comment did that.

        • Michael says:

          Im guessing its Zuko's sister during the Agni Kai? That's not spoilers as its never brought up again…..I dont remember there ever being a policy you cant bring up stuff about past episodes in case of a rewatch…that seems a little ridiculous.

          • Tauriel_ says:

            Yeah, I actually posted a screenshot of that and some overzealous mod deleted it… *grumblegrumblegrumble*

            • Riel says:

              It's a spoiler (okay, not a big one) because that screenshot shows us what kind of person this character will be.

          • Saphling says:

            Number Five under What Counts as a Spoiler on Mark's Spoiler Policy:

            5) Telling me the “answer” is in a past book.

            EX: “Mark, GO LOOK WHAT SO-AND-SO SAID ON PAGE 87 IN BOOK 4!!!!!!”

            Effect: Half the experience of reading/watching anything that is this dense is seeing what I pick up on and which details I pass over. You are essentially taking away a moment of epiphany/surprise.

            I hope your underpants turn into bedbugs.

            • Shay_Guy says:

              As I'm reading it, that's things like saying "Hey, reread the cleaning-out-Grimmauld-Place sequence in OotP!" at the end of HBP. This isn't something like that.

              • Saphling says:

                This is exactly like that. It's saying "Hey go re-watch the Zuko-burning flashback sequence in The Storm!" at the end of season one.

                • Shay_Guy says:

                  Except that the example I gave would've been a clue to an unsolved mystery (i.e., where the real Horcrux was). My deleted comment didn't provide a clue to any mystery, just an Easter egg. And that's what makes the difference between the relevance and irrelevance of #5.

  48. Toph13139 says:

    Did I or did I not tell you to grab a blanket and hold your breath?

    I did. Well, did you? Obviously not, because by the look of this review I get the vibe you jizzed in your pants.

    Oh, for a long time Koh was the M.C of my nightmares. Yes, children's show. I was twelve when I watched this episode. And, like you, I was super not prepared. I don't know if you did, but I actually tried hard to keep myself from showing any emotion with my face when that scene. You know, because it might've helped Aang. o_o And I still do.

    You began to love Avatar by episode 5, Mark. This love will last forever, believe me.

  49. Angie says:

    THIS EPISODE!!!1!! It's been forever since I commented, but I have to drag myself out of lurkdom for a little while. This is one of my favorite episodes (and when I say episode, I count part I and part II together as one episode) of anything ever produced for television. I just love everything about it, from the gorgeous use of color – the art as a whole, actually – the voice cast at their best, (including, Mako! Jason Isaacs! <3333333), the music, the storytelling… all top notch.

    I love Iroh's BAMFery. He's wise, silly, sincere, dedicated, loving, kind, and DAMN powerful.

    KOIZILLA. Wow.

    Yue becoming the moon spirit. In my first watching I suspected she'd be killed, but I never imagined she'd become the moon. I legit watched this The Siege of the North with my mouth hanging open the whole time.

    KOH. Oh my God, he would've stolen my face in an instant, no question. Creepy spirit guy.

    This season was so good (aside from a few small missteps), and I'm so excited that you're starting season 2.

  50. Tauriel_ says:

    Hands up who wants to be Zhao in that pic. XD

  51. bookgal12 says:

    This season finale takes the cake for me, they did so much in only 25 minutes that it blew my mind. I am 22 and I am kind of jumpy when it comes to insects so when I saw Koh I literally scooted away from my laptop. That scene with him was so scary that I thought Aang would mess up and show some emotion. I loved the contrast between the lush spirit world and the black and white water tribe tones. I can't wait for next season!

  52. tigerpetals says:

    Post it here when you do please!

  53. Jupiter Star says:

    So, having been one of those coincidentally lucky enough to get into the show from the start;

    Series One fandom reaction to Koh was basically, "HOLY FUCK CREEPY CREEPY ACK FACE-STEALING BUG MONSTER RUN!" End of series two, the reaction had shifted to "HOLY FUCK CREEPY CREEPY ACK FACE-STEALING BUG MONSTER RUN!" Then by season three/series end, we've mellowed to "HOLY FUCK CREEPY CREEPY ACK FACE-STEALING BUG MONSTER RUN!"

    Moral of the story? KOH IS NEVER NOT FREAKY AS HELL.

  54. Are you on the spoiler blog? Because I have a suggestion as to when to post it.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I posted there a couple of times when it started, but then I stopped due to lack of time… Go ahead and post your suggestion and I'll go check it. 🙂

  55. kartikeya200 says:

    The best thing.

  56. Patrick721 says:

    Hey, everyone, I think I found Koh's favorite album!
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Steal Your Face Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

    Couldn't resist the joke/reference. Sorry.

    • Patrick721 says:

      And for my thoughts on the episode as a whole…
      -Koh=HELLO NIGHTMARES (Also, love his voice. Up there with The Beast from Impossible Planet/Satan Pit in terms of awesome evil voices)
      –In fact, I believe that the Wu-Tang Clan said it best: General Iroh ain't nothin' to fuck with!
      —Shut up, they totally made that song. In the greatest parallel universe ever.
      -Koizilla was some of the most beautiful animation ever.
      -Zhao, you got exactly what you deserved.
      -Yue is now the moon, which is sort of like a god to the water tribe. Does this mean Sokka banged a goddess? And shut up, they totally did it. It's clear by now that Sokka is a chick magnet. First Suki, then Yue.

      And someone needs to photoshop the Grateful Dead Skull onto Koh. I'd do it, but I don't have Photoshop. I will, however, repay whoever does so with a silly gif.

      Mark, just so you know, Season 2 gets even better. If you thought it was impossible to love a character more than you love Iroh…prepare to be proven GLORIOUSLY wrong.

  57. kartikeya200 says:

    Oh, I haven't seen this mentioned yet.

    Master Pakku.


    How many Fire Nation soldiers does he take out entirely on his own in that sequence??? Damn.

  58. jubilantia says:


    I love Koh so very, very much. The idea of this ageless, not-necessarily-eeevil but definitely self-serving spirit sitting all scorpion-like in his cave is so frightening and so awesome. Mostly because it is not real. NOT. REAL..At least that's what I'm telling myself.

    I think it's a combination of his movements and his deep, deliciously velvet menacing voice that puts the finishing touches on the utter horror that is Koh. He takes so much gleeful relish in what he does that it is unnerving. I was just as frightened as you were the first time I watched it.

    I love this finale so much. It did put me off the series for a while, partially because season 2 wasn't out yet, and partially because I just wasn't prepared. I was in my first year of college when I initially watched this show, and I almost think it's worse at that age than as a kid because you understand the full implications of death. I think the finish is also a great way to give Sokka more room for development. I still can't get over how there are no wasted characters, and hardly any character stereotypes, because the writers flesh out the characters so well.

    I remember tearing up most profusely at that last Yue scene, in utter disbelief of what was going on. They could have finished it so many ways, but that was definitely the most dramatically interesting and satisfying. I've since come to appreciate the art of the sad ending more, but at the time, I was not best pleased. Looking back, I agree with you how mind-bending it is that they fit so much into the last episode. The story-telling is just so seamless. Whenever I go back and try to remember what happened which episode in that last trilogy, I always get mixed up because it melds together so well.

    Anyway, woo-hoo season 2! It's great to see you so excited- not that I expected anything less.

    • potterfanatic says:

      "Looking back, I agree with you how mind-bending it is that they fit so much into the last episode."

      Heh heh. Mind-bending. Get it? I remember Nickelodeon actually used that when promoting the series finale. TV spots advertised "Don't miss the mind-bending series finale!" I actually didn't catch the pun until the Avatar podcast I listened to at the time pointed it out.

      • jubilantia says:

        What's even more amusing is that I was actually not thinking of the pun when I typed that. I guess I've seen the word "bending" used so many times that it doesn't seem like an unusual thing to say anymore.

  59. alexamarie0813 says:

    oh, and i forgot to mention:
    best part of the episode?
    when aang just sinks into the pond to merge with the ocean spirit like a boss
    anyone have a gif of that? that would be marvelous.

  60. chichichimaera says:

    Hahaha, I just love Iroh leaning over and shaking his head. Iroh is disappointed in you M Night. Very disappointed

  61. alpaca4eva says:

    I don't know if it counts as a spoiler really, but that picture of Yue is from season 2.

  62. Christina says:

    Actually, Sokka didn't lose Yue after a few days. They had a few months together. There is a skip of three months between episode 18 and episode 19.

    • alexamarie0813 says:

      whoa, really?
      well damn. where did you hear that?

    • Ina300 says:

      The entirety of season 1 is three months. No one knows how long they are at the North Pole but most people speculate it's somewhere between 2 to 4 weeks.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      They didn't say in the show how much time there passed between the Gaang's arrival at the Northern Water Tribe and the siege. I also think 3 months is way too long. I believe they stayed there for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, but not more.

      • The Welsh Pirate says:

        I can't remember, but is there a shot of the moon in "The Waterbending Master"? Because I know that the creators took great pains throughout the entire series to make sure the moon's phases could be used as an accurate measurement of the show's timeline.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          You know, I never actually thought of that… Good point! 🙂

        • Strabo says:

          Yes, there is (when Sokka and Yueh meet at the bridge). It is a rising moon in Waterbending Master and a full moon in the finale. So it is 2, 6 or 10 weeks between the two episodes.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I never knew that, but that's the cannon I had in my head. (Of course, my head-cannon had the entire series taking three years, and it took them about five months to journey to the North Pole.)

      • Tauriel_ says:

        my head-cannon had the entire series taking three years

        So, pretty much like the movie? 😉 😛

  63. Mikan says:

    I'm not sure how many agree with me, but I've always liked the fact that Aang and the others just kind of accept Iroh in their group. (Well, not that he has ever really been involved in Zuko's efforts.)

    It's not even mentioned, just the group consensus, "yeah, he's a cool old guy, fire nation or not", that even Yue just seems to assimilate.

    Probably partly due to him trying to defent the Moon Spirit so vehemently and beating all the firebenders, but still. XD

  64. MichelleZB says:

    I know, right? I love that we see Zuko's sister once before, in episode, 12, but we don't know who she is. I do remember thinking, "Who's that chick?"

  65. Clueless says:

    Koh terrifies me to no end. Before I watched this (as a young impressionable child) I was pretty freaked out over centipedes. Koh definately solidified my phobia of them.
    Aslo, Season Two <3333333333333

  66. MichelleZB says:

    Wow, in this episode, Aang sure kills a lot of people for a vegetarian kid. That Avatar state is really something–AMIRITE?

  67. tigerpetals says:

    He's enough of an asshole that I think if it had occurred to him to drag Zuko down to death, he would have done it. It's what he did the last time he lost to him.

  68. lossthief says:

    Can I just mention the FUCKING AMAZING foreshadowing done with Yue's character.

    Everyone remember the first time we see her in "The Waterbending Master"? Well what shot directly follows that scene after it cuts away?

    A shot of the fucking moon.

  69. kaleidoscoptics says:


    I want a gif with this. Not sure what of, but it is a wonderful quote. xD

  70. sam says:

    you must watch the bonus features/ commentaries as well! avatar is a work of brilliance all the time!!!!

  71. Teresa says:

    I agree, I don't see Zhao as desperate at all. He's a top-ranking officer in the most powerful army in the world, his attack on the previously untouched Northern Water Tribe has gone remarkably well and for all we know, could have succeeded had he just kept at it the traditional way. But that's not enough for his own glory — he's obsessed with being even more successful, being the most spectacular conqueror ever, being legendary, and he pursues this goal from the start in a very calculated way. I guess it could be seen as desperation in a very subconscious psychological sense — whatever's underlying egomaniacal-lunatic impulse. But since Zhao's down-deep motivations are not something the show tackles, I do have a hard time seeing him as desperate here.

  72. The Welsh Pirate says:

    "One point that I have always considered an open question: did Zhao refuse Zuko's hand at the end because of his ego… or was it a rare act of wisdom along the lines of 'I'm dead either way, why drag him down with me?'"

    Personally, I think the expression on Zhao's face as he pulls his hand away pretty much confirms that it's due to his ego. His pride couldn't handle the fact that Zuko showed him him mercy, and he'd rather die then live with the knowledge that somebody he holds so much contempt for was the bigger man and saved his life.

  73. empath_eia says:

    This episode. This episode. I loved the show really hard already, but this episode catapulted it into my top five of all time, and it just kept getting better from there on in.

    When it comes to worldbuilding, there really isn't much I love more than a world with a rich sandwich layer of spirituality in which said spirits are neither good nor evil because they cannot be judged by human standards. Koh is terrifying, but also ancient and wise, and he isn't "wrong" for stealing faces. That's what he is: Koh the Face-Stealer. And his presence gave the world a much stronger sense of… wideness, I guess, for me. It was already deep, of course, what with all the powerful themes Aang's story addresses, but when Aang met Koh I realized that this world had been living its rich and complex story for a really, really long time before Aang came along and that there were expanses of legend covering the whole world that we would only get to see glimpses of through the eyes of Aang's group.

    Also, Iroh is the love of my life.

    The End.

  74. sam again says:

    also look how gorgeous this show is!!!!!
    no spoilers in the post, just pictures of the wonderful episode. can't speak for the comments though but… the pretty!

  75. Amira says:

    Thank you, Mark. I've been rewatching Avatar along with you. Thank you for making me fall in love with this show again. Can't wait to see what you think of season 2.

  76. Emily Crnk says:

    oh , Koh is terrifying. yes.
    But what made me SCREAM the first time was the monkey without the face!
    HOLY GOD that made me jump.

  77. Also, and I can't GIF here because I suck, Moon/Ocean OTP Y/Y ?!?!?!?!

    Srsly, do not kill the ever-circling life partner of ONE OF THE OLDEST SPIRITS IN THE MORTAL WORLD if you do not want it to WREAK HORRIBLE VENGEANCE.

    Especially with the Avatar, bridge between our world and the spirit world, sitting right there.

    Yue/Sokka in this ep is an oh-my-creys moment, but so is Ocean/Moon, if you think about it. *sadfaces*

    • notemily says:

      I do like how it's a love story. Like, they're huge elemental spirits with terrifying power, and stuff, but also? They love each other. Moon/Ocean OTP indeed.

  78. The Welsh Pirate says:

    Zuko's sister just entered the picture

    <img src=""&gt;


  79. Pimento says:

    I've been lurking and greatly enjoying seeing this show through the eyes of a first-timer to the world of Avatar. I already knew how much I loved this show, but Mark, your enthusiasm and surprise has reminded me of the excitement of each individual episode in order. I normally re-watch favorites (which are a few season 1 episodes, but mostly season 2 and 3) and now I find myself watching along with you, and in the process re-discovering episodes I didn't give as much attention to. So, thanks, and great job covering this wonderful show.
    Also, season 2 is my favorite, and YOU ARE NOT PREPARED!

  80. Bard Child says:


    that's all I gotta say <3

  81. ses says:

    Who the hell was that first spirit that kind of looked like half-human, half-monkey?

    I can answer this, since it's never revealed in the show. FUN TRIVIA TIME! His name is Enma.

    Enma (閻魔) is the Japanese name for Yama, Lord of the Dead in Hindu/Buddhist mythology. It may also be a pun in Japanese, as when written with the Kanji 猿魔 the name means "monkey demon".<./i>

    😀 😀 😀

    • ses says:

      Ack closing italics tag!

      • Bard Child says:

        Is this stated on the Wiki or in the Art Book? Because for all I know he could just be fanon. Well his name

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I remember hearing that it had something to do with Yama, but I heard his name is Enma and figured I was just being silly and seeing Hinduism in everything.

      I have trouble with the italics tag, too.

  82. PeacockDawson says:

    Lol, Zuko has ALL THE ANGST.

    Also, I think Koh is just about the most awesome demon/spirit I have ever seen. SO AWESOME AND SCARY.

  83. Arelpost says:

    New reader here. Thank you so much for this, I love reading your reactions as it allows me to feel again how I first felt.

    Season 2 is incredible. I can’t wait to see your reaction to everything, and especially some specific episodes.

    Thank you.

  84. Kylie says:

    Zhao is also the jackhole who said to Zuko in the beginning of their fight that "if would have been better to live with the dishonor than to die a coward" or something like that AND THEN HE TURNS RIGHT AROUND AND CHOSES THE OPPOSITE, THAT ASS.

    But like you said, kudos to this show for taking that stance and being true to the character.

  85. Moonie says:

    This episode is when it stopped being "fun" and turned into "one of the best shows i've ever seen" and I am sure it was like this for many, many others. I still remember being gobsmacked by Aang's avatar state and being just so completely in love with the episode.

    ALSO, ZUKO'S SISTER. OH MAN. It seems like his family is rather hit or miss, right? Makes you wonder what everyone else is like.

    • sam says:

      This episode is when it stopped being "fun" and turned into "one of the best shows i've ever seen"

      could not agree more

  86. canadadian says:

    Sorry. Just finally saw The Incredible Hulk and had to say it. (lol at the "hungry" line from that movie btw)

  87. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Every time I watch this episode, I find it so beautiful.

    Even without touching on the plot, you have to look at the art for this. The scenes after Zhao has taken the moon is so absolutely beautiful and magnificent. The way the entire world turns deep red, and then later, monochrome when the moon dies….amazing. It makes the dual with Zuko and Zhao so much more vivid and intense, and the fury of the Sea and Avatar eerie and powerful. It’s really wonderful, and it sometimes makes me surprised that we had this on a children’s show, because the detail and beauty of it look like something out of a feature length film.

    (It’d absolutely love a feature length animated film of Avatar. Maybe something about Iroh’s youth; ‘The Dragon of the West’. Of course, I know it’ll probably never happen, and even if it did it would tank because so many adults are prejudiced against animation as a medium. *sighs*)

    So, yes, I love the animation of this episode, but even so, I can’t ignore the plot and writing of this, which is magnificent. Unfortunately, its difficult to talk about in separate threads, since now all the characters have converged into one story, and I can’t say which one is the A-plot and which one is supporting.

    I suppose I’ll start in the spirit world. Once again, beautiful animation, but from a story telling perspective it only works to heighten how odd and mysterious everything is. Washed out colours, oranges, the sense that everything isn’t quite there…and a random mediating baboon person. I laugh at that every time, and I absolutely love the way Aang just accepts it. He’s pretty new to this sprit world thing, and seems to be taking it pretty well.

    I mean, do you see how he copes with the next spirit? Koh is scary. I’m not going to lie. His physical body and power is scary enough, but couple it with his personality and its downright freaky. How he quietly taunts Aang about stealing one of his loves in his past life, menace just below the surface….I don’t know if I’d be able to keep my face clear of emotion, and I say that as someone who’s done over eight years of drama. Also, so many questions about what it means about the nature of the Avatar spirit. Are they the same person, like Koh insinuates? Do things, such as loves, enjoyment, personality, slip over from one life to the next? How strange must it be to think even the people you love dearest to you now will be completely forgotten when you move on to another body?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Anyway, through the little excursion, and shots of Zhao’s approaching army, we learn the true plot. The moon and ocean spirits took the form of koi fish, and Zhao is planning on killing it. All I can think is what an idiot. People in this world clearly understand the relation between the tides and the ocean. They must know what affect the tides must have on things such as fish stocks, the weather, navigation, these things which affect everyone…Its completely idiotic of Zhao, and that’s ever without factoring in the fact that in any universe, trying to defeat something that is a spirit it a bad idea. Stupid, stupid Zhao and I wish Iroh burned his face off, though I suppose drowning is fine enough.

      Which brings me to my favourite subplot- that of Zuko. Once again we get a view into just how lonely and self-hating he is, and while I absolutely loved seeing the Storm the first time, I think this was the point when I found myself feeling “Aww, can’t Zuko just be happy?” Just listen to the things he says; it gives me a shudder every time.
      “You’re just like my sister. My father said she was born lucky; he said I was lucky to have been born. I don’t need luck, though. I’ve always had to struggle and fight, and that’s made me strong. It’s made me who I am.”
      So, we discover that not only did Ozai physically abuse Zuko at least once and banish him, but it sounds like he was being mentally abused for a long time, too, to have such a view of the world. It’s really painful, though, because last episode we saw just how much Iroh loved and cared for him; why can’t Zuko see that he doesn’t need to search for recognition from someone like Ozai when he’s earned the care of someone as brilliant as Iroh? It’s painfully sad.

      (Oh, and Zuko’s sister. Interesting….*smirks*)

      Speaking of Iroh, I find his interactions with the other characters very interesting in this episode. It’s interesting how quick he is to turn against Zhao, and while he claims he wasn’t a traitor, and he was doing it to protect his nation also, it’s interesting to point out that he easily sheds these barriers of war to do what he thinks is right. He seems to work so smoothly with our heroes, speaking wisdom and realising that it is Yue who can save them all. Amazingly, they listen. Even though Iroh has been chasing them for months, and is dressed in the clothes of an opposing nation, they really do seem to trust his knowledge about the spirits….I suppose it’s just the power of the mentor figure, no matter which side of the conflict they’re on.

      As for Yue- well, isn’t that heart breaking?

      Many times in fiction, it so often seems that a character is given the position of princess because it makes her a more desirable prize. She’s special, it will be worth more if the hero gets her love and affection. They rarely seem to do anything, like make important laws or ride out into battle. While I think it’s safe to assume that in the Northern Water Tribe society Yue wouldn’t be allowed to do any of that, it seems clear to me that she knew she had a duty, and was always acting in a way to benefit her people. That’s why she was so willing to let herself be married to Hahn, even though he disliked him and preferred Sokka. She’s sacrificial, and how willing she is to let her mortal life go to help everyone seems genuine.

      That’s really the way so much of this season finale feels. Genuine. The characterisation is real and intense, there’s amazing plotting, real dedication in the writing and design- it feels like a labour of love, and I think that’s a good reason why I love it so much.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Also, so many questions about what it means about the nature of the Avatar spirit. Are they the same person, like Koh insinuates?

      Actually, in this particular aspect I like the comparison with the Doctor. Each regeneration is slightly different in terms of character and mood, but it's always essentially the same person. Similarly the Avatar – the character traits may be different for different Avatars, but the spirit within stays the same.

    • It’d absolutely love a feature length animated film of Avatar. Maybe something about Iroh’s youth; ‘The Dragon of the West’.

      brb buying tickets in advance

    • notemily says:

      I would so watch a movie all about Iroh. It'd be like that Burn Notice TV movie they did about Sam Axe, only more so.

  88. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Hey, Arctic, did you know that Zhao's voice by Jason Issacs? No joke!


    No, seriously, I love your long reviews, they're brilliant.

  89. licoricepencil says:

    When I saw this episode for the first time, I practiced for WEEKS to not show emotion on my face just in case I ran into Koh.

  90. littletonosense says:

    This week I will barely be able to make rent, there is a possibility that I may fail two of my classes, and, to top it off, it's raining outside. This is also the week that Mark got to review two of the greatest hours on television (Doctor Who and ATLA).

    This is a great week.

  91. Anonymouse says:

    I don't have anything intelligent to say except SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER… *ahem* sorry about that….

    Avatar has an awesome world buillding technique. Not only do they bombard viewers with enough "OMGWHATISTHATTHING!?!?! visual stuff" there is so much unexplained backstory, especially in season 1. What is the deal with Iroh's spirit world journey that they keep referencing (correct me if I'm wrong, but this episode is the second reference)? Whose face did Koh steal in a past life? What/who is that monkey spirit? There are so many little unexplained mysteries that it makes everything sooo much more real. As well as the visual everything being totally amazing in every way… It also gives the fanfic writers so much amo. Your Mileage May Vary as to whether or not this is a good thing.

    Now, this is very much off topic, but a guy at work showed up and i swear he looked exactly like you Mark. And I got very excited and wondered what the hell you were doing in Canada, and was going to buy you lunch… then it wasn't you. I was very disappointed.

    In conclusion, this episode is awesome. You are awesome. And you are so completely unprepared for the shit that is about to get real. As in, you have never been prepared and never will be. EVER.

  92. Matt Thermo says:

    A few thoughts on this episode.

    – I think one of the things that makes Koh so damn creepy, is the voice. Instead of using something demonic sounding, or some high pitched insectile screeching or chitering like you’d expect to hear out of something that looks like Koh, what you get instead is an almost soothing eloquent voice. It’s just in such stark contrast to what Koh is and does, that it really adds that extra level to something that’s already creepy enough. And No, Mark. (“I’m willing to concede that everyone else may have read the scene in Koh’s cave as kind of funny or weird). The general fandom consensus on Koh was that he was creepy as all fuck.

    -Iroh’s Badassitude. Throughout the first season, I always got the feeling that Iroh was probably a Badass, but he hadn’t really done anything to overtly confirm that the belief. This episode removes the probably. What we see when Iroh finally unleashes his full Irohocity, is a man that is absolutely not to be fucked with.

    – (this is a trivia note specifically for Mark) The fandom has affectionately dubbed the Aang/Ocean spirit Avatar state merge as “Koizilla”.

    -“Zuko’s unnamed sister, who looks rather ~sinister~ and ~badass~.”

    Oh man, just wait till… AH! NO! MUST! NOT! SPOIL!!! (Give me a moment while I punch my brain in the face.) Ok, ok. I’m good now, and I need to stop before I say anything I shouldn’t. Because this particular character… NO! STOP!

    Alright, I have to wrap this up because I can’t trust myself on this one. I’ll add only this; Oh Mark, how I’ve been waiting for you to meet her.

  93. Pelleloguin says:

    Ok, first Koh….He scared me silly. HE EATS YOUR FACE OFF! Why is this in a kids show?!
    Logical answer: Kids can handle things people dont think they can handle.
    My answer: The writers wanted to mess with young minds.
    It's still awesome, but it still freaks me out.

    Second: Yue. I admire her very much. She knows she can restore life to the moon spirit. She doesn't have to, but she chooses to sacrifice her life to save many more. That is pure heroism.

    Third: Iroh. I love Iroh. Yeah, he's helping his nephew hunt down the Avatar, but he's not doing it for the evil. He's doing it to help Zuko, and perhaps change some of his views. He respects other cultures, he respects the spirits. He is a great example of a…For lack of a better word 'Morally ambiguous' character. Yes, he is technically with the Fire Nation, but he's not about to burn down a village on his quest. He's just a nice guy in an odd situation trying to make the best of it and trolling his nephew when he feels it is needed.

    Fourth: Mark shall never be prepared for this series. (Or probably any other series) Shit will get very real many times over in the run of this show. And he shall love every minute of it.

  94. Depths_of_Sea says:

    Everyone else has already said everything I want to say so here, have some soundtrack excerpts instead.

    "The Ocean Spirit"

    (Oh gosh that last iteration of the "Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall" leitmotif…)

    • Helldars says:

      Great music pieces ! Although anyone discovering the show right now along with Mark MUST avoid reading the top comments on the videos, for they are spoilery.

    • MichelleZB says:

      OMG I love that there are leitmotifs in this CHILDREN'S CARTOON…

      • Depths_of_Sea says:

        ISN'T IT AWESOME?!

        Ha ha, a LOT of my favorite cartoons treat their soundtracks more like Film Scores actually, and have reoccurring themes and leitmotifs that pop out for especially appropriate ~dramatic~ moments. I just love it when TV composers take their music seriously, even if it's for a twenty-minute animated children's program. They're like, "Whelp, I don't get a whole lot of time to do this but by golly I'M GOING TO MAKE IT AWESOME BECAUSE I LOVE THIS SHOW/JOB." It really shows off the love and effort they put into the show.

    • agrinningfool says:

      SOUNDTRACK NOW. *Demands it*

  95. Caterfree10 says:



    But yeah, I just. I love everything about the season finale. <3

    Also, You said you loved the use of color? THIS (now nonspoilery! BUT BEWARE USER ICONS) PICSPAM IS RELEVANT TO YOUR INTERESTS:

    I just. I still love all these reactions, they are most wonderful. I JUST WISH I COULD SAY MORE BUT I KNOW TOO MANY SPOILERS. *SOB*

  96. Hotaru_hime says:

    Damn, this season finale. It's crazy.Damn, this season finale. It's crazy.
    Everyone's said everything already, but the reveal of Zuko's sister is something of a shocker.
    The way Zuko describes his father's attitude towards his sister and the contrasted opinion towards him is the opposite of what it usually is in Asian families. Usually boys are placed higher in importance than girls, especially in royal families, where male primogeniture was found everywhere. The fact that the as-of-yet unnamed sister is gifted and placed on a pedestal while Zuko is demeaned, defaced, and humiliated and sent away on an impossible quest.
    I dunno, it's just something I found interesting.

    • MichelleZB says:

      Yes, adding to that very interesting bit of colour about the Fire Nation in general: they're not sexist.

      • @Ahavah22 says:

        Not sexist, but they definitely need some major therapy. I mean, every Royal Family ever, fictional or non. needs major therapy, but the Fire Nation Royal Family? Freud would have a field day…

        "Zuko, tell me about your father…" Can you imagine???

        • TheWelshPirate says:

          Darth Vader would wag his finger at Ozai and say "You need to treat your son better".

          • H. Torrance Griffin says:

            I am hard pressed to think of a parent that would or could not do so… offhand Precia Testarossa from Nanoha is on the short list and should serve as a decent benchmark.

          • @Ahavah22 says:

            Who's a worse parent? LOL!

            Well, I think Vader's worse because he never even cared two shakes about his daughter…and he kind of destroyed her whole planet and all….

            Not that Ozai cares about anything 'cept power, far as we know.

            • @redbeardjim says:

              Well, to be fair at that point he didn't know he *had* a daughter. He was just being Generically Evil.

              (plus it was Tarkin who gave the order to destroy the Alderaan)

              • TheWelshPirate says:

                ^True. And at least Vader was taking an active interest in Luke's life, and even complimented him for becoming so talented. Sure, he cut off his hand, but at least Luke got a robotic replacement afterwards. Zuko has to live the rest of his life looking like a Batman villain.

  97. Megan says:

    For those that asked for the gif of Zhao throwing Shyamalan overboard:

    <img src=""&gt;

  98. Classtoise says:

    This 2 parter has also got one of the best lines/moments from Katara (my favorite is in season 3, but that's a ways off).

    "Back for a rematch?"
    "Trust me, Zuko, it won't be much of a match."
    Then she proceeds to completely embarrass Zuko with one strike. Not really spoiling anything anymore I guess, but THIS is the moment when you realize "Holy crap, Kataras a Master of her art now."

  99. Teaspoon Capacity says:

    This episode never ceases to blow my mind. The art is so beautiful, and the use of colors, and the plot, the parallels…everything is just so damn amazing! Koh scared me so much when I first watched the finale (and he still does), and my eyes get teary when Yue sacrifices herself to save the Moon Spirit. Shit gets real, and that's what makes Avatar so awesome.

    Mark, I love it when you're unprepared; it gives us these awesome updates filled with spazzing out and caps like no other. Let me tell you that for the next season, YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

  100. ConfusedUs says:

    I can partially agree with you. This episode is the best, visually.

    There are episodes that have better storytelling, or better fight choreography, or better humor, or better whatever. But this one looks the best. And I get chills every single time Aang drops into the oasis.

    • corporatecake says:

      I said favorite, not best, because I think arguing what Avatar episode is "best" is kind of like arguing whether the Mona Lisa or Monet's Water Lilies is better. Both are great, but ultimately what appeals to one person over another is going to be a matter of opinion.

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